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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Travel to Disneyland, Lovely Traffic

This afternoon we headed down from Calabasas, California for our fourth annual family Thanksgiving get together at Disneyland in Anaheim. We decided to head out around 3:00pm in order to “avoid” the traffic, however on a Wednesday before Thanksgiving, it is a given in the Los Angeles area that there would be some sort of traffic.

Of course, the Los Angeles Freeway system would not disappoint. Leaving shortly before 3:00pm, we headed through Malibu Canyon on our way to Pacific Coast Highway. This way, we can avoid the very heavy traffic on both the US 101 and Interstate 405 freeways. And of course through Malibu towards Santa Monica, there was very little traffic.

Then right before we were to get on the Interstate 10 freeway, we checked Google Maps and traffic was the dreaded red in color. Then it became and exercise to work our way through Santa Monica in order avoid it. Things did not get too bad until we hit the Interstate 105 freeway. While not quite a parking lot, it did take the better part of 45 minutes to make it across. Not too much longer, we were pulling into our hotel near Disneyland.

We are staying at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Anaheim – about a 15 minute walk for a couple of different reasons. First, being a Hilton HHonors Diamond VIP member – we’re entitled to some pretty good benefits. Secondly, given the recent price hikes at Disney’s Grand Californian to put it over $400/night – we decided that was too much to spend.

The Doubletree Guest Suites in Anaheim in an interesting hotel. This is the second time we have had an interesting experience and we will most likely be choosing the Hilton in Anaheim on subsequent visits. First, there are two flavors of their “free” breakfast buffet – a continental and a full version. For some reason, Diamond VIP members still do not get the full breakfast – which includes eggs, bacon and more. Only the continental is provided. Finally, and perhaps most annoying is that they do not perform the automatic upgrades that both Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond VIPs are entitled to. In our case, it was not until after Ashley complained about our “standard” suite that we were upgraded to a full 2-room suite with views towards the pool and Disneyland. Even then, she was given some nasty looks by the receptionist when she exchanged our key cards.

For dinner, we headed over to Benihana’s for dinner with my parents. The wait was not too bad given the holiday evening at the restaurant – about an hour total wait. Our Teppanyaki experience was excellent with our cook Nick moving more quickly than we were used to. Given the shortened time to cook, the food was excellent and we left satisfied with our meal.

Once we arrived back at our hotel room, we had just enough time to catch the fireworks at Disneyland -- "Believe...In Holiday Magic" Fireworks Spectacular. It is quite a good fireworks show, of course not as good as when you are actually at the park. Still, it is the next best thing.